Is counting the hours of sleep you get a good thing?


In this week’s Sleep Diary, an active 48-year-old mother wonders why the time she spends sleeping varies so much.

About me:

Age: 48

Occupation: independent HR consultant

Number of hours of sleep you get each night: it really varies – from 4 to 9 hours

Number of hours of sleep you would like to have each night: 7-8 hours

Grind your teeth / have nightmares: I grind my teeth – I wear a mouthguard specially designed by my dentist

How much water do you drink on average per day: about 2-3 liters

How much exercise do you do on average per week: 3-5 times a week – varies between HIIT, walking and yoga

Day 1

I have a relaxing day – a picnic with my daughter’s new classmates before a burger in the garden with my mom and family at 6:30 p.m. I watch TV after the kids are in bed and turn off my phone about 30 minutes before getting in and going. I go to bed around 9:50 pm after a busy weekend.

I use my Rescue Remedy Night Spray and Lavender Pillow Spray (This Works Deep Sleep) and sleep pretty well – maybe 7 hours in total, with just one trip to the toilet.

A bedside table
Sleep Diaries: “My husband is starting to snore, so I go to the spare bedroom.”

Day 2

I have a busy day transporting my kids to various things. One of them has friends over for an early evening barbecue, and we eat the same skewers of chicken, sausage, and salads they have around 6 p.m.

I chase the kids to bed before school the next day, then I read for a while – I have to finish my book club book!

I go to bed around 10:20 p.m. but it’s hard to get my mind off my mind – it’s back to school and work tomorrow, the girls are spending the night at school, my husband is leaving for the weekend and I have several games hockey games and workouts for solo sailing on weekends.

My husband is also starting to snore so I go to the guest room with my pillow and a glass of water. I don’t sleep until midnight and wake up several times during the night too. My alarm goes off at 6 a.m., ready for a busy day.

Day 3

I have another busy day and I don’t feel too bad after a pretty terrible night’s sleep. I have two hours to drive to client meetings, then another two hours to drive back (plus extra time for traffic), and when I get back I sit down with my youngest to hear how their first day went.

I have a gin and tonic with my husband and eat homemade shrimp curry for supper before watching a 9/11 documentary and going to bed at 10:20 pm. Again, I make sure to turn my phone off for a good 30 minutes before the lights go out. After my bad night last night and a long stressful day, I decide to take Nytol to help me drop.

A phone in one hand
Sleep Diaries: “I make sure to turn off my phone for a good 30 minutes before the lights go out.”

However, my husband starts snoring again and while I fall asleep at first the sound wakes me up at 12:20 am so I run off to the guest room at midnight and sleep pretty well after that. My alarm goes off at 6:20 am and I still sleep soundly – I have about five and a half hours of sleep in total.

Day 4

My energy level is not too bad today. I don’t work, so I get my hair cut, have coffee with a friend, and do some paperwork around the house. I also help my little one get ready for her residential trip before going out to dinner with some of the moms at the local school – I drive there and have garlic prawns, chicken with lean fries and a glass of wine.

I got home at 11:40 pm and will go to bed shortly after. I’m going to sleep in the guest room so as not to disturb my husband. It takes a little while to fall, but I sleep pretty well until my alarm goes off at 6:20 a.m. I slept about six and a half hours.

Day 5

I feel completely broken until I jump in the shower, but then I straighten up and have a productive day. I have dental work done in the morning, then I do two job interviews online in the afternoon. I also have a workload to catch up.

Like every day, I try to limit my caffeine intake – I usually drink two milk teas, one coffee (but not every day) and one zero coke a day.

I cook dinner (hoisin chicken wraps) and watch Grey’s Anatomy with my oldest daughter. I go to bed at 9.45am and read about 30 minutes before turning off the light. I sleep soundly until 2:40 a.m., then wake up again for about 75 minutes before falling asleep. Again, I sleep until my alarm goes off at 6:20 am, so I get seven hours of good sleep.

So what does all of this mean? A sleep expert offers her thoughts

Sleep expert and professional physiologist Dr Nerina Ramlakhan says: “You are clearly a very busy working mom and as such you need all the stuff from the book. I feel like you’re a perfectionist – grinding your teeth and watching your sleep hours are telltale signs.

“I want you to loosen your grip on monitoring the hours of sleep you think you get.” It is not helpful and it is incorrect – we may think we are awake at night, but physiologically we are more asleep than we realize. You should notice that sometimes you feel pretty good even when you haven’t slept well. It’s the weird thing about sleep – perception isn’t always reality.

Sleep expert of Dr Nerina Ramlakhan Stylist
Sleep expert Dr Nerina Ramlakhan

Dr Nerina continues, “I can say that you have a lot to do, but you have to try to loosen your grip on life in general – try to lie down and relax, even when you are busy at work. daytime. Learning a breathing technique can come in handy when rushing from activity to activity or even when sitting in traffic.

“You should also (at least) cut your caffeine intake in half, without caffeine after 2pm.”

If you would like to participate in Stylist’s Sleep Diaries, please email us at [email protected] with “SLEEP DIARIES” as the subject. We look forward to hearing from you.

Main image design: Ami O’Callaghan

Images: Getty

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